Law and Policy

                                                       last updated 1 June 2010

 

Croatia’s goal of European Union (EU) accession has contributed to much of the recent legislation addressing violence against women and gender equality. Attempts to address issues of gender equality began with the Beijing platform in 1995 and continued after Croatia signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU Member States in 2001, which obligated Croatia to regulate gender issues in accordance with EU standards. Over the last several years, the country has taken steps to bring its laws into conformity with the standards of the EU and in accordance with the various international treaties and conventions to which it is a party. From: The National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2010, Croatian Parliament, 13 October 2006.

Croatia has ratified a number of international treaties that protect and promote human rights. As a result, they are now a part of Croatia’s domestic law, as international agreements ratified in accordance with the Croatia’s constitution become part of the internal legal order. Croatia is also a party to United Nations human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. These treaties have been incorporated into the national law of Croatia and can be cited by the courts. In addition to rights guaranteed by the international treaties, the Croatian Constitution guarantees many economic, social and cultural rights to all citizens. Over the last several years, the parliament has further strengthened the rights of women by passing legislation regarding gender equality, domestic violence and trafficking. Croatia’s human rights policies generally are developed, coordinated, and implemented by the Government Office for Human Rights. This office was formed in 2001 and coordinates efforts with NGOs and others in the international community. All gender initiatives, such as coordinating efforts for the prevention of trafficking in persons, were conducted through this office prior to the formation of the Office of Gender Equality in 2003. These two government offices still work together on certain issues. From: The National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2010, Croatian Parliament, 13 October 2006; and Statement to the Commission on the Status of Women, Helena Stimac Radin, Head of the Office for Gender Equality, Government of the Republic of Croatia, United Nations, New York, 3 March 2010.

 

In 1995, Croatia adopted the Beijing Platform for Action and began to draft policies and legislation that would advance gender equality. A Commission for Issues of Equality was appointed in 1996 as the national body for advancing the status of women in society. The Commission consisted of representatives from the ministries and state bodies and served as an advisory body. In 1997, Parliament began to reform the Criminal Code. The reform was reflected in the 1998 Criminal Code, the first to criminalize spousal rape in Croatia. Another first came when Parliament passed the Family Law in 1998. It was Croatia’s first legislation granting protection against domestic violence. From: “Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” UN General Assembly, 2004; and “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

 

On 18 December 1997, the Equality Commission adopted a National Policy for the Promotion of Equality, based on the Beijing Platform for Action. However, no significant action was taken on the policy until 2000, when two conferences were held to disseminate information about the policy to the general public. In the same year, Parliament passed constitutional amendments that placed gender equality as the “highest value of constitutional order.” In 2001, the Croatian Parliament adopted a National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality as well as an Implementation Programme of the National Policy for 2001 to 2005. It also established a Parliamentary Committee for Gender Equality in 2001 which took the place of the Commission for Issues of Equality. The aim of the Committee is to strengthen national human rights mechanisms and address issues relating to gender equality within the Croatian legislature.  This Committee is viewed as supporting the significant increase of women in Parliament, from 5.7% in 1995 to 21.2% following the January 2000 elections. The Committee is also authorized to monitor the implementation of international treaties related to gender, assist in the development and implementation of the National Policy for Gender Equality, recommend measures to eradicate gender discrimination, and promote equal representation in the Parliament. It also assisted in the creation of regional bodies that could promote the status of women. From: “Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” UN General Assembly, 2004.

 

A major development in gender policy in Croatia was the adoption of the Gender Equality Act in July of 2003, which set forth the necessary elements of equal opportunity policies. The Act defines gender equality to mean “that women and men are equally present in all spheres of public and private life, that they have equal status, equal opportunities to exercise all their rights and equal benefit from the achieved results” (Article 5).  It makes discrimination on the basis of gender, marital status, familial status or sexual orientation illegal (Article 6), and obliges all government bodies to evaluate the impact of decisions and actions on gender equality (Article 3). Sexual harassment is defined and outlawed for the first time in Article 8. The act protects against discrimination because of gender in hiring for employment, in promotions at work, in access to job training and education, in working conditions including equal pay for equal work, and in union or worker association membership (Article 13). The act calls for equal access to education, for gender equality curriculum at all education levels, and for political parties to produce strategic plans for increasing the representation of women in public office. It establishes local gender equality commissions and forbids insulting and offensive representation in the media of any person based on their sex or sexual orientation. From: Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 18 July 2003.

 

The 2003 Gender Equality Act created the government Office for Gender Equality, which is currently the primary coordinating body for government efforts to increase gender equality.  It approves gender equality action plans of other government bodies, proposes, in cooperation with the Gender Equality Committee, amendments and regulations within parliament, develops and monitors the National Plan of Action, conducts research, analyzes implementation of the National Plan, monitors the harmonization of Croatian laws with international legal framework around gender equality and the extent to which the national government fulfils its obligations under international treaties, and generally promotes gender equality in coordination with NGOs working in the field.  This Act also established the Gender Equality Ombudsperson and Deputy Ombudsperson who are nominated by the Government and appointed by the Parliament, and who together act as an independent judicial authority.  The Ombudsperson for Gender Equality monitors the implementation of the Gender Equality Act and works on issues relating to gender equality, including areas of employment, gender violence and education. The ombudsperson also reviews cases of violation and cases of discrimination and offers recommendations.  The Office for Gender Equality (government), the Gender Equality Committee (parliament), the Ombudsperson for Gender Equality (judicial protection), and state, county and local Coordinators for Gender Equality form a strong institutional framework for implementation of gender equality policy. From: “Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” UN General Assembly, 2004; Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 18 July 2003; and “Institutional Framework for Implementation of Gender Equality Policy,” Croatian Office of Gender Equality.

 

In 2006 the Croatian Parliament adopted the National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2010, the third national policy for Croatia since it signed on to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. This recent national policy outlines seven major areas of action: 1) protect the human rights of women, 2) provide for equal opportunities in the labor market, 3) introduce gender-sensitive curriculum at all levels of education, 4) encourage equality in political decision-making positions, 5) eliminate violence against women, 6) improve measures to address women’s health issues, and 7) enhance institutional mechanism for the implementation of gender equality legislation. From: The National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2010, Croatian Parliament, 13 October 2006. Please see the National Plan section of this Country Page for a more in-depth summary of Croatia’s current National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality. 

The Parliament passed a second Act on Gender Equality in 2008 which affirmed much of what was written in the 2003 Act.  It did provide for two major clarifications, however.  In Article 12, the 2008 Act outlines a specific measure to promote equal participation of women and men in government bodies and public services, which dictates, in conjunction with Article 15, that political parties must propose a list of candidates for elections in which neither gender comprises less than 40 percent of all party candidates.  The second major clarification is in Articles 31 through 38, in which a schedule of fines and other sanctions are spelled out clearly for various types of violations. Acts of discrimination call for a fine of HRK 5,000 to HRK 350,000 depending on the act and the person or entity in violation.   Fines for government bodies who fail to submit Gender Equity reports within the required timeframe range from HRK 3,000 to HRK 10,000.  A violation of the provision for political parties to propose a balanced list of candidates calls for a fine of up to HRK 50,000 for parliamentary elections. Media companies face fines of HRK 1,000,000 for the publication of offensive or degrading programming or advertisements.  The 2008 Act on Gender Equality also mandates gender equality training in all government bodies and confirmed that gender equality affirmative action efforts are not to be considered discrimination. From: Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 15 July 2008.

Croatia has enacted legislation that addresses domestic violence against women, sexual assault, trafficking in women and children, and sexual harassment.

 

Domestic Violence

Prior to the Family Law of 1998 domestic violence was only generally prohibited by Article 23 of the Constitution: "No person is to be subjected to any type of maltreatment," or by laws against violent assault in the Criminal Code.  The Family Law of 1998 entered into force on 1 July 1999 and was the first to provide protection for victims of domestic violence. This Family Law granted protection from “violent behaviour of a spouse or any of age member of the family” and stipulated a prison sentence of up to 30 days in jail for violation. However, due to the inadequacy of the law, Parliament undertook efforts to revise the 1998 Family Law and the Criminal Code. From: “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003

 

On December 30, 2000, Croatia adopted a new Criminal Code which criminalizes violent behavior in the family in Article 215(a) by stating that “(a) family member who by his or her violent, abusive or particularly insolent conduct puts another member of the family into a humiliating position shall be punished by imprisonment for three months to three years." In May of 2002, the Law on Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act was adopted, which strengthened the protective measures that courts can institute in criminal domestic violence cases. This law introduced restraining orders for the first time in legislation against domestic violence, providing for “prohibition to approach a certain person or establish and maintain contact with a certain person.” These restraining orders can last for the full duration of court proceedings. From: “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

 

In October 2002, Croatia adopted a new Law on Misdemeanors (Narodne novine No. 88/02), under which the Misdemeanor Court may order, with or without an applicant's request, the detention of a person who violates "public order and peace or in misdemeanor concerning domestic violence...if there is a substantial danger that the misdemeanor will continue" (Article 146(1)). The perpetrator may be held in detention until the cause for detention has ended or up to fifteen days has passed (Article 146(3)). The new version of the Family Act was passed in 2003, at the same time Croatia passed the Law for Protection against Violence in the Family. Because the Law for Protection against Violence in the Family addresses the protection of victims of domestic violence, that provision was removed from the revised 2003 Family Law. From: “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

 

The 2003 Law for Protection against Violence in the Family (sometimes translated as the Act on Protection against Family Violence), defines family violence as “any use of physical force or psychological pressure against the integrity of a person; any other behavior of a family member which can cause or potentially cause physical or psychological pain; causing feelings of fear or being personally endangered or feeling of offended dignity; physical attack regardless of whether or not it results in physical injury, verbal assaults, insults, cursing, name-calling and other forms of severe disturbance; sexual harassment; stalking and all other forms of disturbance; illegal isolation or restriction of the freedom of movement or communication with third persons; damage or destruction of property or attempts to do so.”  From: “Croatia – Act on Protection against Family Violence (“The Official Gazette” No. 116/03),” United Nations Secretary General’s database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

 

The 2003 Law on Family Violence focused primarily on the prevention of domestic violence, but also addressed services for victims of past violence. Family violence cases can be initiated by someone other than the victim. Officials with knowledge of domestic violence are required to report the abuse or suspicion of abuse. Failure to do so may result in prosecution. Article 10 of the Act allows for the use of restraining orders, which prohibit offenders from approaching the victims. Other protective measures include: “precautionary measure of obligatory psychosocial treatment, precautionary measure of prohibition to approach the victim of violence, precautionary measure of prohibition of harassment or spying on a person exposed to violence, precautionary measure of removal from apartment, house or other housing facility, restraining order, precautionary measure of assurance of protection of a person exposed to violence, precautionary measure of compulsory drug abuse treatment and precautionary measure of seizure of objects.” Restraining orders may be enforced for no less than one month and no longer than one year.  Removal from the home may be enforced for one to three months. From: “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

 

Under the act, domestic violence is considered a misdemeanor and results in a fine of HRK 1,000 to HRK 2,000 (US$200 to US$2,000) and up to 60 days in prison. If the case is tried as a violation of the Criminal Code, perpetrators can be sentenced up to three years in prison, but at this time over 90% of cases are filed by police as a misdemeanor.  From: Legislation in the Member States of the Council of Europe in the Field of Violence Against Women, Volume I: Armenia to Lithuania, Council of Europe, Gender Equality Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Strasbourg, December 2009; ”2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Croatia,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 11 March 2010. The 2003 Law for Protection against Violence in the Family allows the court office to order psychosocial treatment for the perpetrator; however, requests for protection orders and removal of the offender from the residence can only be filed by the victim, who is often too frightened to make such a request. From:  Report on Women’s Human Rights in 2005, 51% - Zenska mreza Hrvatske, Zagreb, January 2006.

Since the 2003 Law, there have been many developments in the Croatian legal framework to address domestic violence.  In 2005 the National Strategy for Protection Against Domestic Violence of 2005-2007 was written, which stressed that all bodies responsible for the prevention and processing of domestic violence cases must engage in research on the issue, and that it is important for NGOs who provide services to victims of domestic violence to communicate and coordinate with each another. From: The National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2010, Croatian Parliament, 13 October 2006.

In 2005 the Protocol for Action in Cases of Domestic Violence was adopted, which outlines precise procedures for police, courts and judiciary bodies, social welfare centers, hospitals, and schools in addressing cases of domestic violence. In 2008 a new Rules of Procedure in Cases of Family Violence was enacted.  These Rules require police, social services, health care professionals and educational institutions to report any case in which there is suspicion of family violence. It recommends interviewing strategies that allow the victim to speak freely and separately from the perpetrator and that decrease the risk of secondary victimization. It calls for police to confiscate weapons, to bring perpetrators to the police station immediately following the incident, to inform victims of their legal rights and opportunities for protective measures, and to maintain clear records in a separate database for Offences of Violent Behavior in the Family. There are several provisions for the protection of a child who experienced or witnessed family violence, and a clear mandate for all departments to cooperate in the sharing of information and the provision of victim services. It should also be noted that in 2008 the Misdemeanor Act was amended to allow police to issue immediate “cautionary measures” that are not dependent upon a decision from court procedures and that can last until official protection measures can be ordered.  From: Rules of Procedure in Cases of Family Violence, Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity, Zagreb, 2008; and Croatia – Rules of Procedure in Cases of Family Violence,” United Nations Secretary General's database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

The newest national plan on domestic violence, The National Strategy for Protection Against Domestic Violence for 2008-2010, calls for 49 measures within six activity categories:  education of legal and victim support professionals, psycho-social treatment for perpetrators, analysis and implementation of legislation, shelters and support services, supporting victims in court proceedings, and public awareness of the issue of domestic and family violence. The 2008-2010 National Strategy lists objectives and specific measures within each of these areas of activity, including a timeline for implementation, the required financial resources, and the government ministries in charge of carrying out each measure. It requires an analysis of the prevalence of domestic violence, recidivism rates, effectiveness of legislation, and the compliance of legislation with international laws and standards. It proposes amendments to increase the protection of victims in the Penal Code, the Act on Criminal Proceedings, the Misdemeanor Act, the Act on Juvenile Courts, the Police Act and the Ordinance on the Method of Police Procedures. A Free Legal Assistance Act is proposed increasing women’s access to the justice system and legal protective measures, and an Act on the Compensation to Victims of Violent Crime is proposed as called for in the Convention of the Council of Europe on the Compensation to Victims of Violent Crimes. The Strategy calls for an increase in victim services in the areas of counseling, health care, education, employment, and schooling for children. The Strategy also calls for a new Act on Protection against Family Violence. From: The National Strategy for Protection against Family Violence for the Period 2008-2010, Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity, Zagreb, 2008; and  “Croatia – The National Strategy for Protection Against Domestic Violence for 2008-2010,” United Nations Secretary General's database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

In a March 2010 Statement to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Helena Stimac Radin, Head of the Office for Gender Equality, announced that a new Act on the Protection Against Domestic Violence was adopted in 2009. Many important changes have been made with this most recent act.  The definition of family violence now includes economic violence for the first time.  There has been an increase in the maximum punishment for the offense of family violence, from 60 days to 90 days in prison. This new Act shortened the period in which the court can make a decision on a protective measure from 48 to 24 hours, and it has increased the maximum length for a restraining order from one year to two years and the maximum length of an eviction order from three months to two years. However, the new Act does not recognize intimate partners as a party to family violence, leaving those women who have not lived with or had children with the perpetrators without protection. From: Statement to the Commission on the Status of Women, Helena Stimac Radin, Head of the Office for Gender Equality, Government of the Republic of Croatia, United Nations, New York, 3 March 2010.

In October 2010 and February 2011, The Advocates for Human Rights, in collaboration with its partners, the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation and Autonomous Women’s House Zagreb, sent delegations to Croatia to investigate the implementation of Croatia’s domestic violence legislation. The delegations conducted interviews with NGOs, shelter workers, police, judges, Centers for Social Welfare personnel, Ministry officials, health care workers, victims, prison personnel, and other government representatives. Published in September 2012, the report,  Implementation of Croatia's Domestic VIolence Legislation presents the delegations’ findings and makes recommendations to strengthen the government’s implementation of domestic violence laws to better protect victims and hold offenders accountable. From: Implementation of Croatia's Domestic Violence Legislation, The Advocates for Human Rights, September 2012.

 

Sexual Abuse 

 

The Croatian Criminal Code has several articles that address sexual abuse.  Under Article 188 – “Rape,” "[w]hosoever coerces another by force or by threat of immediate attack upon life or limb, or the life or limb of a close person, to sexual intercourse or an equivalent sexual act shall be punished by imprisonment for one to ten years." In Article 190 – “Sexual Intercourse by Duress,” "[w]hosoever forces another person to sexual intercourse or to an equivalent sexual act with a serious threat of serious harm shall be punished by imprisonment for three months to five years."  An incidence of rape that is “particularly cruel or humiliating,” that results in death or pregnancy, or that is against a juvenile is punished by three to fifteen years in prison.  The Criminal Code also outlaws sexual intercourse with a child, sexual intercourse with a helpless person, and sexual intercourse by abuse of position. In addition, Article 215(a) of the Criminal Code strictly forbids a family member from using violence, harassment or other inappropriate behavior to humiliate another family member. Such behavior is punishable by three months to three years in prison. Marital rape was deemed illegal by a 1998 Amendment to the Penal Code. From: Criminal Code, Republic of Croatia, 2004; and “Croatia – Amendment to the Penal Code 1998,”  United Nations Secretary General’s database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

 

Human Trafficking

Though Croatia has been identified as a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking, the country has taken several steps to combat this problem. Croatia has signed onto the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea. The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime commits signatories to creating domestic laws against organized crime, to participating in a cooperative framework for extradition, law enforcement and legal procedures, and to building the capacity of law enforcement and other national authorities to respond to trafficking.  The intention of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children is to provide a clear and thorough definition of trafficking and to provide a framework for victim support and services.  Likewise, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea also created a universal definition of smuggling of migrants and laid out provisions to protect the rights of smuggled migrants and prevent exploitation. From: Trafficking in Persons Report,” U.S. Department of State, 2009; and “Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2004.

Croatia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The Optional Protocol provides definitions of “sale of a child,” “child prostitution” and “child pornography,” it obliges governments to criminalize the act of delivering or offering a child as well as accepting a child, and it calls for efforts to honor the rights of and provide support for victims. In 2007 the country ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings which focuses on protecting victims, prosecuting perpetrators and preventing trafficking. Croatia is also a “Tier 1” country as rated by the U.S. State Department, a nation that fully complies with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. From: “The National Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Period from 2009-2011,” Government of the Republic of Croatia, National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Zagreb, 2009; and Trafficking in Persons Report,” U.S. Department of State, 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last decade, the Croatian government has taken steps to implement these international agreements domestically. In 2001, an anti-trafficking inter-ministerial meeting was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the following year, the government established a National Committee for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, consisting of representatives from relevant government ministries. The Committee drafted a National Plan of Action, which was then adopted by the government as the 2002 National Plan for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons (NPA). The NPA was designed to bring the national laws into conformity with international standards, continue legal reform in other areas of the law, monitor implementation of the plan, and implement measures on prevention, education and international cooperation. The 2002 Plan also included a detailed description for the provision of assistance to victims of trafficking, but it did not address the root causes of trafficking. Studying the root causes was postponed due to lack of funding. Nonetheless, by the end of 2002 there were references to trafficking in various laws and policies. The National Defense Strategy and the National Plan of Action for Gender Equality both included provisions on trafficking. From: : “Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” UN General Assembly, 2004; and  Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

Before trafficking was defined in particular within the Criminal Code it was prohibited in Croatia under Article 175 (Establishment of Slavery and Transport of Slaves), Article 177 (Illegal Transfer of Persons Across the State Border), and Article 178 (International Prostitution). In October 2004, the new Criminal Code became effective. It was the first to define ‘trafficking in persons’ as a crime separate from slavery.  Article 175, Trafficking in Human Beings and Slavery, states that “Whoever, in violation of the rules of international law, uses force or threatens to use force or by fraud, kidnapping, abuse of position or authority solicits purchases, sells, hands over, transports, transfers, encourages or mediates in the buying, selling or handing over of another person or who conceals or receives a person in order to establish slavery or a similar relationship, forced labor or servitude, sexual abuse or illegal transplantation of parts of a human body, or who keeps a person in slavery or in a similar relationship shall be punished by imprisonment for one to ten years.” In cases where the victim is a minor, the minimum sentence is increased to 5 years.  For crimes that result in death and crimes that are committed by a criminal organization, the penalty is five years to life in prison. In addition, a prosecutor may pursue charges against a trafficker based on Article 177 – Illegal Transfer of Persons Across the State Border, Article 178 – International Prostitution, and Article 195 – Pandering. These charges may also bring sentences of up to ten years imprisonment. From: “Croatia – Ammendments to the Penal Code 2003,” United Nations Secretary General's database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10. “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

In 2004, the Croatian parliament adopted a new Law on Foreigners that includes a provision establishing a humanitarian ground for granting a temporary resident permit. Victims of trafficking who are apprehended while traveling through Croatia can utilize this Article to remain in the country. Parliament also passed a law on witness protection which allows for protection when the life, health, freedom or property of a witness is threatened. The law provided for special protection for victims of trafficking. A National Action Plan for 2005-2008 was adopted on 15 December 2004 and an anti-trafficking coordinator was appointed. The Plan was drafted by a working group consisting of members of the government, civil society and the international community.  As called for in the plan, in 2008 the national Protocol on Identification of, Assistance to, and Protection of the Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings was adopted. From: “Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003; and “Croatia - Protocol on Identification of, Assistance to, and Protection of the Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings,” United Nations Secretary General’s database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

 

The newest National Plan on trafficking, the National Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Period from 2009 to 2011 was adopted in 2009.  The 2009-2011 National Plan includes eight action areas:  1) normative framework, 2) identifying victims of trafficking, 3) discovering, processing and punishing perpetrators of trafficking, 4) helping and protecting victims of trafficking, 5) prevention, 6) education, 7) international cooperation, and 8) activity coordination. Under each of these action areas, the plan identifies specific measures to be carried out, who is to be responsible for coordinating and carrying out each measure, and the funding necessary for each measure. From: National Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Period from 2009-2011, Government of the Republic of Croatia, National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Zagreb, 2009.

Sexual Harassment

 

Sexual harassment was not illegal in Croatia until the 2003 Gender Equality Act. Under Article 8 of this Act, sexual harassment is defined as “any form of unwanted verbal or non-verbal, that is, physical behaviour of a sexual nature, which aims at or actually constitutes violation of the personal dignity and creates an unpleasant, unfriendly, humiliating or insulting atmosphere.” Sexual harassment is considered discrimination, and under Article 27 it is determined that the harmed party can demand compensation through the obligations law on damage liability.  In regards to the media, the Gender Equality Act states that “public display and presentation of any person in an insulting, belittling or humiliating manner as regards to his/her gender or sexual orientation, shall be forbidden,” in Article 16. From: Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 18 July 2003.

The 2004 Law on Changes and Amendments to the Labor Law not only reaffirms that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, but also obliges employers to provide a work environment free of sexual harassment as well as to implement a structured process for handling complaints. The new Article 2(b) (Article 4) characterize sexual harassment in a similar manner as the Gender Equality Act, defining it as “any verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior of sexual nature that represents or is aimed at a violation of the dignity of the person seeking employment or employee, and which results in fear or unfriendly, humiliating or insulting atmosphere.” The new Article 22(b) (Article 30 in the revised law), provides a number of strong protections against sexual harassment.  In this article, employers are responsible for ensuring the protection of the dignity of employees, including protection against sexual harassment from the employer, supervisors, associates and anyone else the employee comes into frequent contact with. The procedures for reporting and responding to a violation must be clearly spelled out in the employee contract and/or in posted workplace regulations. For workplaces employing over 20 people, there must be a designated person, other than the direct employer, who is available to receive complaints on sexual harassment. All complaints must be examined and addressed within eight days, and if the complaint is not addressed within eight days, the employee may take a paid leave from work until the complaint is addressed.    From: Gender Equality Ombudsperson Annual Report 2005, Republic of Croatia, Zagreb, March 2006; and “Croatia – Article 4 of the Labour Law,” United Nations Secretary General’s database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

The 2008 Act on Gender Equality confirmed all aspects of the ban on sexual harassment written earlier in 2003.  The 2008 Act did, however, outline specific penalties for the media’s publication of sexually degrading material, calling for a fine of HRK 1,000,000. From: Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 15 July 2008.

Compiled from:

Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 18 July 2003.

Act on Gender Equality, Croatian Parliament, 15 July 2008.

Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties: Croatia to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.” United Nations (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) 27 October 2003.

 

“Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2004.

 

Criminal Code, Republic of Croatia, 2004.

 “Croatia – Ammendments to the Penal Code 2003,” United Nations Secretary General’s database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

 

“Croatia – Article 4 of the Labour Law,” United Nations Secretary General’s database on violence against women, accessed 5/24/10.

 

Gender Equality Ombudsperson Annual Report 2005, Republic of Croatia, Zagreb, March 2006.

“Institutional Framework for Implementation of Gender Equality Policy,” Croatian Office of Gender Equality.

Legislation in the Member States of the Council of Europe in the Field of Violence Against Women, Volume I: Armenia to Lithuania, Council of Europe, Gender Equality Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Strasbourg, December 2009. 

The National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2010, Croatian Parliament, 13 October 2006.

The National Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Period from 2009-2011,” Government of the Republic of Croatia, National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Zagreb, 2009.

The National Strategy for Protection against Family Violence for the Period 2008-2010, Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity, Zagreb, 2008.

“Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” UN General Assembly, 2004.

Rules of Procedure in Cases of Family Violence, Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity, Zagreb, 2008.

Statement to the Commission on the Status of Women, Helena Stimac Radin, Head of the Office for Gender Equality, Government of the Republic of Croatia, United Nations, New York, 3 March 2010.

Trafficking in Persons Report,” U.S. Department of State, 2009.